Friday 08 March 2002

Neither smart nor good

In an item titled Assembly-line Journalism, Dave Winer ran Rob Enderle through the blender:

I guess he counts. Anyway, he’s not that interesting… Enderle and his ilk are old fashioned vestiges of a system that was really shitty, and got the ink-stained crowd in a deep hole.

And, as a bonus:

I support equality for women, therefore I would never let gender get in the way of collegial pushback, nor would I point to an article because it was written by a woman (or a man). Perhaps this is a subject for the BlogSisters to look at.

You and I both know, Dave, that the breathtaking hypocrisy of “Where Men Can Link, But They Can’t Touch” isn’t going to get “looked at” any time soon, not by the BlogSisters nor by anyone else in the blogging universe.

But let’s get back to Rob Enderle. It’ll be more fun.

I’ve been thinking and writing a lot about “constructive criticism” since my first post on the subject. I enjoy the process of launching polite criticisms out into the world and receiving them back, annotated. Dave’s style of criticism—certainly as applied to Rob Enderle—differs from my own, but who can resist the pleasure of seeing a craftsman at work, even if he was trained in a different school? And perhaps I can pick up a technique or two that might extend my range.

As for Winer and Enderle, its impossible to deny (appropriating the words of The Happy Tutor):

that it was a fair fight, since the victim had every advantage; that the better man won; that society is better off, because an example has been made… that the job was done professionaly, with one clean cut; and that the victim didn’t suffer, except during the extended preliminary discussions, unless the satirist had succumbed to temptation and flayed the man alive.

Which he did.

Rob Enderle, the BlogSisters. Without the slightest additional effort, Dave scores the trifecta as Mitch Wagner eagerly grasps the proffered length of rope:

I’m one of those journos who quotes Rob Enderle a lot, and I do it because I think he’s a pretty smart guy on some issues. I’ve used him as a source on Microsoft antitrust issues, desktop operating systems and client access devices.

Mitch Wagner explains that “Good staff writers for computer trades face a predicament when it comes to quoting analysts: there are only a limited number of analysts out there, and an even smaller number of smart analysts.”

Although his editors at InternetWeek “used to get on [his] case for quoting Enderle and Dan Kusnetzky of IDC too much,” Mitch defended using them “on the grounds that they’re smart, and every time I talk to them they tell me something I didn’t already know.” Mitch’s sources also include Jamie Lewis of the Burton Group (on directories) plus Sara Radicati who offers extra value because she “seems to think the Burton Group are a bunch of idiots.” Plus James Governor of Illuminata whenever Mitch needs a quote about Web services.

According to Mitch, “Sam Whitmore’s runs these occasional surveys of which analysts get the most quotes in the trade press, and Enderle and Kusnetzky always get big numbers. Another name that scores high is Henry Harteveldt of Forrester Research.”

“Never mind the quality,” as the East End tailor said, “feel the width.”

I doubt I’ll ever “need a quote about Web services,” but when I want some solid information on the subject, I’ll check in with the Radio crowd—I can be sure to find three or four dozen practitioners who can tell me everything I need to know.

Hard drives, video cards, CPUs, color printers, CD-burners? Tom’s Hardware Guide. Digital photography? DPReview. Gadgets? Dan’s Data. WiFi? I could care less about WiFi—it hasn’t really taken off in Australia (although my former boss Marius Coomans loves his AirPort). Still, when I have to get on the 802.11b bus, it won’t even occur to me to read the “computer trades,” not when I can talk to Marius and read Glenn Fleishman.

Mitch, allow me to be the bearer of bad tidings. The only predicament faced by “good staff writers for computer trades” is that of stumbling down the road towards Oblivion, trailing the herd of “smart analysts.”



I am really amazed that no one commented on: "You and I both know, Dave, that the breathtaking hypocrisy of 'Where Men Can Link, But They Can't Touch' isn't going to get 'looked at' any time soon, not by the BlogSisters nor by anyone else in the blogging universe."
Must be the Friday deads...

Posted by: Burningbird on 8 March 2002 at 10:51 PM

Me too! I wasn't sure I believed in the Friday deads when you told me about them. I do now. (Unless there are certain topics that are so far off bounds that...)

Posted by: Jonathon Delacour on 9 March 2002 at 01:00 AM

Well, if no one else will touch it I have been given an imperative. However, for next week. As you've continued on your discourse about long-form writing, I continue on my about RSS and weblogs -- complimentary but separate.

Posted by: Burningbird on 9 March 2002 at 07:03 AM

This discussion is now closed. My thanks to everyone who contributed.

© Copyright 2002-2003 Jonathon Delacour